When ride service Uber started charging upwards of three times the usual rate for rides in last weekend’s inclement weather, people got upset. Unfortunately, though, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick doesn’t care.
The mess that resulted from Uber’s surge pricing ordinarily would have the average CEO running for the cover under which they’d stay for several days following. But not Kalanick, who posted an angry customer letter to his Facebook page with the comment “Get some popcorn and scroll down.” A bastion of customer service, this guy ain’t, though he was kind enough to redact the customer’s name in between mocking fits:
“Surge Pricing email that just came in and my response. Get some popcorn and scroll down...
————— Forwarded message —————
From: Travis Kalanick
Date: Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 8:44 PM
Subject: Re: I'm OUTRAGED!
We regularly do surge pricing when demand outstrips supply. Remember, we do not own cars nor do we employ drivers. Higher prices are required in order to get cars on the road and keep them on the road during the busiest times. This maximizes the number of trips and minimizes the number of people stranded. The drivers have other options as well. In short, without Surge Pricing, there would be no car available at all.
Now granted, that the prices are significantly higher. BUT we notify every customer in big bold images in text, which each customer has to confirm in order to request. Furthermore, every customer also had to type in what the multiplier was in order to double confirm that they understood what they were agreeing to.
So, was it expensive. It was, and we wish it wasn't necessary. But if you did indeed take the rides described then you confirmed the price which was very up front, and then entered the multiple you read into a text box in order to double confirm.
Airlines and Hotels are more expensive during busy times. Uber is as well. We don't just charge to make a buck though, we take a small fee of the transaction, but the vast majority goes to the driver so that we can maximize the number of drivers on the road. The point is in order to provide you with a reliable ride, prices need to go up.
If you have other ideas for how to provide a reliable ride during busy times, I am all ears. In the end, Uber is reliable, always, and we will create a system that maximizes the number of people that can get safe and reliable rides. Not surging is saying you shouldn't have the option. Not surging is saying we should be just like a taxi and be unreliable when people need us most. These are outcomes that take choices away from the consumer and make it harder to get around cities - these are outcomes that we put a lot of hard work in to avoid so that at least you have the choice if you want one.
On Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 5:01 PM, wrote:
Dear mr. Kalanick,
I used to love uber... I have written several blogs about the amazing service and how amazing I thought your company was. Key word, WAS! I called uber on sat. To take me to a show that was 60 blks away, and also called uber to pick me back up to bring me home. I usually get an email with my receipts, but havent received one yet... did a little research and was SHOCKED to see that i was charged $180 each way! That's $360 to go 120 blocks!
I WILL NEVER USE YOUR COMPANY AGAIN! I AM OUTRAGED AND DISGUSTED THAT YOU WOULD JACK UP YOUR CHARGES THAT MUCH BECAUSE OF A SNOW STORM!!!
I hope it was worth losing a loyal customer-like myself! I plan on telling this story to everyone I know and plan on writing about this on my blog!
You should be ashamed of yourself!
Sent from my iPad”
Since he posted the diatribe, hundreds of comments have flooded in, but there has been no further response from Kalanick. Presumably because he has been too busy enjoying a tub of popcorn.